Kathleen Sullivan

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Kathleen Sullivan
11th Dean of Stanford Law School
In office
Preceded byPaul Brest
Succeeded byLarry Kramer
Personal details
Kathleen Marie Sullivan

(1955-08-20) August 20, 1955 (age 64)
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, U.S.
Alma materCornell University
Wadham College, Oxford
Harvard University

Kathleen Marie Sullivan (born August 20, 1955) is an American lawyer and name partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a global, litigation-only white shoe law firm headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Based in the firm's New York City office, Sullivan chairs its national appellate practice group, she is the first and only woman name partner at an Am Law 100 law firm.[1] Previously, Sullivan served as Dean of Stanford Law School, where she was the Stanley Morrison Professor of Law.[2]


Early life and education[edit]

Born in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan and raised on Long Island, New York, Sullivan graduated from Cold Spring Harbor High School in 1972, she participated in the Telluride Association Summer Program during high school, then attended Cornell University where she was a member of the Telluride House, and graduated in 1976. She then became a Marshall Scholar at Wadham College, Oxford, and graduated in 1978.

Sullivan returned to the United States to attend Harvard Law School. Professor Laurence Tribe called her, at the time, "the most extraordinary student I had ever had."[3] During law school, Sullivan worked as a research assistant to Tribe and assisted him with his Supreme Court appeals.[4] After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1981, Sullivan served one year as a judicial law clerk to Judge James L. Oakes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.[5] Following her clerkship, Sullivan elected against joining a large law firm, and instead returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts as a litigation associate in Professor Tribe's private appellate practice.[4]

Academic career[edit]

Although several major law schools offered her positions, Sullivan accepted an assistant professorship at Harvard in 1984, and was promoted to professor of law in 1989.[4][6] Following a visiting teaching position at Stanford Law School in spring 1992, Sullivan accepted an offer to join that faculty in 1993 and was promoted to the Stanley Morrison Professor of Law in 1996.[7][8] Sullivan served as Dean of Stanford Law School from 1999 to 2004, becoming the first woman to head any of Stanford's seven schools and the first woman Dean at one of the nation's top three law schools.[4][8] After voluntarily stepping down as Dean in 2004 to serve part-time as the inaugural director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, Sullivan remained on Stanford Law's faculty until 2012.[7][9] Stanford recruited New York University Law School assistant dean and legal scholar Larry Kramer to succeed her as Dean, as well as serve as Richard E. Lang Professor at the Law School.[10]

Sullivan specializes in constitutional law and co-edited a leading casebook with the late Stanford Law professor Gerald Gunther,[11] Constitutional Law, through its 17th edition, she has co-edited the 18th and 19th editions with Noah Feldman.[12] From 2000 to 2007, Sullivan was the sixth most-cited constitutional law scholar,[13] and the most-cited female legal scholar between 2005 and 2009,[14] she is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[6]

Appellate career[edit]

While Stanford's Dean, Sullivan maintained a pro bono constitutional law practice. In 2005, she joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges (now Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan), where she helped to found and build the firm's nascent appellate practice.[4] Now chair of the firm's national appellate practice, Sullivan has argued and briefed numerous appeals before the U.S. Courts of Appeals, the California Supreme Court, the New York Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court, where she has argued nine times.[6] Cases she won before the U.S. Supreme Court include: Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., and Granholm v. Heald (which struck down state prohibition of interstate wine shipping).[15] She also represented Shell Oil in an appeal to limit the company's liability for toxic waste.[16] Sullivan has also filed pro bono briefs in a wide range of civil rights cases, and served as co-counsel for Michael Hardwick in the 1986 landmark gay rights case Bowers v. Hardwick.[17]

In both 2006 and 2013, The National Law Journal recognized Sullivan as one of America's 100 most influential lawyers.[18][19]

In late 2016, Sullivan argued on behalf of Samsung Electronics in Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. in front of the Supreme Court and it ruled in favor of Samsung to reverse the decision and remanded it to Federal Circuit court to define the appropriate legal standard to define "article of manufacture".[20]

Personal life[edit]

Sullivan, a member of the New York bar since 1982 and the Massachusetts bar since 1988, failed the July 2005 California bar exam, leading many to question either the usefulness of the exam or her preparation for it,[21] she retook the exam in February 2006 and passed.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Outstanding Women Lawyers". The National Law Journal. May 4, 2015. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
  2. ^ "Sullivan Named Partner at Quinn Emanuel". Stanford Lawyer. May 20, 2010. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  3. ^ Nancy Waring (Summer 1999). "Congratulations Dean Sullivan". Harvard Law Bulletin.
  4. ^ a b c d e Harper, Timothy (October 2014). "Appealing Appellate". superlawyers.com. Super Lawyers. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  5. ^ "Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen M. Sullivan announces decision to complete deanship at close of five-year term; will direct new Stanford constitutional law center: 10/03". News-service.stanford.edu. 2004-09-01. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  6. ^ a b c "Kathleen M. Sullivan | Biography" Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. 6 July 2015.
  7. ^ a b Dethlefsen, Ann (October 22, 2003). "Kathleen Sullivan to step down as dean of Law School". Stanford Report. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Dolan, Maura (April 5, 1999). "The New Sage of Stanford". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  9. ^ Kalia, Jaishree (July 22, 2014). "Women in law: Quinn Emanuel's name partner Kathleen Sullivan and London MP Sue Prevezer QC talk diversity". Legal Business. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
  10. ^ "NYU professor to succeed Sullivan as dean of Law School - Stanford News Release".
  11. ^ "Official Biography of Kathleen M. Sullivan". Stanford Law School.
  12. ^ Sullivan, Kathleen; Feldman, Noah (21 June 2016). "Constitutional Law". Foundation Press – via Amazon.
  13. ^ Leiter, Brian (December 18, 2007). "Most Cited Law Professors by Specialty, 2000-2007". Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  14. ^ Leiter, Brian. "Top 25 Law Faculties In Scholarly Impact, 2005-2009". Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  15. ^ Supreme Court Report
  16. ^ "Superfund". Eenews.net. 2009-02-24. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  17. ^ "Supreme Court Report". Caselaw.lp.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  18. ^ "The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America". The National Law Journal. March 22, 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  19. ^ "The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America". The National Law Journal. June 19, 2006. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  20. ^ Mann, Ronald. "Opinion analysis: Justices tread narrow path in rejecting $400 million award for Samsung's infringement of Apple's cellphone design patents". SCOTUS Blog. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  21. ^ Bandler, James. "Raising the Bar: Even Top Lawyers Fail the Exam". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  22. ^ The State Bar of California. "State Bar of California: Kathleen M. Sullivan". Members.calbar.ca.gov. Retrieved 2013-12-05.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Paul Brest
Dean of Stanford Law School
Succeeded by
Larry Kramer